Monday, November 3, 2008

Yosemite Sam! Put Those Guns Away! Can't We Talk This Through?

I'm at an airport. Ick. And just made some random lady angry.

We were standing in line to check-in, and I noticed that a kiosk opened up. Politely, I said, "Ma'am, I think there's a machine open if you want to step up." She didn't say anything, but walked up to the machine. A man who had been talking to a customer service representative stepped back to the machine and started using it. He talked to the rep for a few minutes without touching the machine so I assumed he was not going to use it. Random Lady got mad and glared at me.

"Uh, I don't think so."

"Oh, I'm sorry, it looked like he wasn't using it."

"I may look old to you, but I'm not that old. I know what's going on."

"I'm sorry, I was just trying to help."

She looked 45. At the most. I shook my head in confusion and tried not to let her negativity make me all crabby too.

I don't get anger. I just don’t get it. I am a simple person, often times too simple and so I can miss complexities of a situation that may seem obvious to other people. I don't like to overcomplicate anything or overanalyze, which can sometimes mean that I’m naive. I'm just a simple girl. I rarely get mad and often find myself confused when other people are.

It's a silly emotion to me. Sometimes when someone is mad about a small thing, I think to myself, "Oh, I wish you could see how ridiculous you seem right now because then you wouldn't be mad, you'd be laughing." I laugh at myself sometimes when I get mad and realize how silly I'm acting. I think it's healthy and necessary to be able to recognize the absurd in yourself.

To me, the most frustrating thing in the universe is a misunderstanding. I know a lot of people hated that movie Babel, my good friend E is one, and there are good reasons why. But I liked it because it did a great job at showing how even the smallest misunderstanding could have serious and severe consequences.

Most conflicts, if not all, begin with some form of misunderstanding. And I do understand how frustrating that is, I get frustrated too when it happens, especially when it involves someone we care about because we expect and want those people to understand us. But I almost never get mad. Getting mad doesn't solve the conflict or bring about a quick, peaceful resolution - it just perpetuates the situation and makes it worse.

I talk it out. I explain where I was coming from, I try to understand where the other person was coming from, and my goal is always to get to a place of mutual understanding. I don’t think everyone does that. I don’t think everyone thinks critically about how they contributed to a situation or what they could have done wrong.

Someone told me once that 80% of the time, anger comes out of fear, but people rarely recognize that. When someone gets mad at me, I wonder what fear could be contributing to that. And when I get mad, I ask myself, “What am I afraid of?” That always helps me see the bigger picture of what’s going on.

My friend, Boy, was out with us for Halloween. His sister was in town so she met up with us too, and while she was dancing, some guy shoved her. He was trying to get through the crowd, she was drunk and probably dancing erratically and blocking his way. She shoved him back, and that started a fight. She wasn't mad, but he was furious. She just kept saying, "It's cool. You pushed me, I pushed back. We're even. Let's dance!"

Which just made him madder. Mad people hate it when you don't get mad too. I think it makes them feel like you don't understand what's going on or that you don't care.

When the guy saw he couldn't get through to her, he turned to Boy and, thinking they were dating, said, "You gotta keep an eye on your woman. You gotta keep the bitch in check." Any brother would get defensive and mad if anyone called his sister a bitch, but Boy just thought the whole situation was ridiculous and laughed it off. "She's my sister. Whatever." The mad guy stormed off.

The Bible says not to let the sun go down on your anger. In a romantic relationship, I take that very literally. With friends and family, I take it to mean that we have to resolve any misunderstanding or conflict quickly and with respect for one another. With strangers, I try to restrain myself from talking to them further and just drop it. Another key to resolving conflicts is recognizing which battles are worth fighting and which are worth dropping.

I had to stop myself from saying anything more to Random Lady. I just sighed to myself and moved on. Thinking about how confusing it is for someone's first reaction to be anger and praying she has a better day.


Thomas said...

Great post. I also rarely get angry and believe that anger arises out of fear. Thanks for the heads-up on "Babel". I've gots to check that one out.

Melanie said...

Great post! Anger is just so not worth the effort.

Little Sister Pixie said...

I know where you're coming from. I'm just a simple girl myself and don't like to be surrounded by conflict. If I know I'm in the right, I will speak up! After dealing with all sorts of people over the years, I will NOT let someone walk all over me ever again!

Agent Elle said...

I completely agree with you there. It's rare that I get really angry, and even if I do, I NEVER take it out on other people. And why? Because it's just not worth it. And I hate it when other people do it, too.

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